AUSTRALIA

Australia’s Future Fund has appointed Stewart Tillyard, head of unlisted property, as acting head of its private equity team after three of its most senior members resigned to set up their own businesses.

The three executives are PE head Steve Byrom, director David Simons and investment director Jasmina Osmanovic. A spokesman at the sovereign wealth fund confirmed the staff changes.

“Even as Future Future plans to commence the recruitment process for a new head ... in the meantime it is business as usual for the programme which remains an important part of our diversified portfolio,” the spokesperson said.

Last month, former government treasurer Peter Costello was reappointed as chair of the Future Fund for another five years.

Source: Dealstreetasia.com

A proposed bill on retirement income will mean Australian workers will be able to keep more of their pension and the self-employed will be eligible for the Pension Work Bonus for the first time.

The proposed law will result in more than 90,000 people receiving an increase in their payments and 1,150 people becoming eligible for a social security pension, according to Paul Fletcher, minister for families and social services in Australia.

The changes were announced in the 2018-19 budget and, subject to the passage of legislation, they will take effect on July 1, 2019.

Source: Asia Insurance Review

HONG KONG

The Hong Kong government has proposed higher tax deductions for deferred annuity premiums and Mandatory Provident Fund Tax Deductible Voluntary Contributions (MPF TVCs) to encourage voluntary savings for retirement.

The maximum tax deductible limit for a taxpayer will be HK$60,000 ($7,677) per year, higher than the HK$36,000 proposed previously. It will be an aggregate limit for MPF TVCs and deferred annuity premiums for greater flexibility. The bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council for first reading on December 12. 

Source: HK government

JAPAN 

Masaaki Tanaka, the head of the recently-launched public-private Japan Investment Corporation (JIC), said on December 10 that he and eight other board members would resign, after getting into a public dispute with the trade ministry over remuneration and management of the company. 

Tanaka announced the resignations at a press meeting. They throw the future of the fund, which was launched in September with ¥2 trillion ($18 billion) of government money to boost innovation among companies, into grave uncertainty. 

The departure of the CEO and board members comes a week after an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the JIC, blasted what he claimed were excessive pay demands by Tanaka and other top management. 

Source: The Mainichi, Reuters

MetLife has appointed Eric Clurfain, currently head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as chairman, president and CEO of MetLife Japan. He succeeds Sachin Shah, who is going to join AIG General Insurance as Singapore-based chief executive for Asia Pacific.

Clurfain's appointment will be effective on February 1 next year, subject to approvals. He will report to Metlife's Asia president, Kishore Ponnavolu, and will be based in Tokyo.

Source: Asian Insurance Review

KOREA 

Korea Investment Corporation (KIC) is bolstering its commitment to responsible investing with a set of investment rules related to corporate governance. The guidelines, called KIC Stewardship Principles, were developed internally and will guide it in exercising shareholder rights, including through proxy voting.

The sovereign wealth fund will examine investment performance, risk management, corporate governance and other issues that could affect mid- and long-term value creation, and “seek opportunities to partner with like-minded institutional investors”.

KIC has also hired a global asset manager for its first environmental, social and governance (ESG) mandate, but declined to reveal the name of the manager.

Source: Asia Asset Management

National Pension Service saw the value of its equity holdings slip by W19 trillion ($16.8 billion), largely over uncertainties such as trade tensions between the US and China, as the Korean state retirement fund continued to struggle to record decent returns amid international volatility.

The total value of its stock holdings in Korea stood at W102.5 trillion, a drop of W19.3 trillion, or 15.8% since January. Earlier in December, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said NPS’s earnings rate for the third quarter stood at 2.38%, far lower than its average of 7.26% and its five-year average of 5.6% between 2013 and 2017.

Increasing its average rate of return is an important objective, with the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs suggesting in June that NPS could see its reserves be fully depleted by 2058.

Source: Korea Herald

MALAYSIA

Tech unicorn Blippar is teetering on the brink of collapse after a dispute between two of its biggest investors,  Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah and British property developer Nick Candy.

Blippar, which specialises in augmented reality, wrote to shareholders to warn that Khazanah had blocked an emergency fundraising, giving the board “no current option other than to give notice to start insolvency proceedings”. Administrators from David Rubin & Partners have been lined up.

Khazanah declined to comment on Blippar or the latest media report. The sovereign wealth fund had invested in Blippar through its European unit in 2016 in a Series D funding round.

Source: Dealstreetasia.com, The Times

NEW ZEALAND

First Credit Union, New Zealand's biggest credit union, says its insurance unit is now able to act as a full life insurer and take on business from other New Zealand credit unions.

First Credit Union had received confirmation from the Reserve Bank that the licence of First Insurance, its fully-owned subsidiary, had been changed. 

Source: interest.co.nz

SINGAPORE

Singapore Life received an investment boost as British billionaire Michael Spencer raised his stake in the firm to 63% from 29%,

Singapore Life chief executive Walter de Oude said he would continue to channel investment into new technology to tap opportunities in internet-based services.

In January, Singapore Life bought S$6 billion ($4.4 billion) worth of life coverage from Zurich Life Singapore and has since grown total coverage to S$6.6 billion, de Oude said.

Hong Kong-listed Chong Sing Holdings Fintech said in an exchange filing on Thursday that it has sold its 33.8% stake in Singapore Life to IPGL, controlled by Spencer, for about $52.7 million, valuing the start-up at $156 million.

Source: South China Morning Post

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC has raised its stake in Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to a little above 5% through a series of transactions at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) over the past two months.

In a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), GIC disclosed that it now owns more than 5% of the Philippines’s fourth largest-bank in terms of assets.

Source: The Philippine Star

M17 Entertainment, which aborted a planned listing this year, said it has raised $25 million in a funding round featuring Temasek-linked Pavilion Capital.

The Taipei-based live streaming and dating app group said in a media statement that it expects additional funding in the next two months and that it is on track for an annual turnover of $180 million.

M17 Entertainment was formed from the 2017 merger of Singapore mobile dating application Paktor and live-streaming platform 17 Media, founded by veteran Taiwanese rapper Jeffrey Huang. Paktor co-founder Joseph Phua Jiexian became the group CEO of M17.

Source: The Straits Times

INTERNATIONAL (EX-ASIA)

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs) put at least $4.7 billion into private equity investments and real estate investments in the first half of 2018, including several commitments to Asia-Pacific managers, according to reports from the $219 billion fund.
 
Calstrs committed $180 million to the KKR Asian Fund and $150 million to a buyout fund managed by StonePoint Capital, the Trident VII fund. Smaller commitments were made to the Peak Rock Capital Fund II & Peak Rock Credit Fund II. 
 
Calstrs also allocated to three smaller VC funds. VC firm BRV’s fund VI received $30 million. Another $40 million was committed to Lilly Asia Ventures LAV Biosciences Fund IV. Lastly, it invested $25 million in SVB Capital Partners IV.
 
Calstrs also disclosed the names of three private equity co-investments, including $65 million to MBK Partners 2017-1, which focuses on the services sector in Asia. 
 

Other stories featured in AsianInvestor over the past week:

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs eyes OCIO mandate

Asia's top asset owners: Australia and China 

Final Institutional Excellence Award winners revealed

Asian asset owners seen falling short on governance

Insurers driving ETF growth in Asia, say experts